Chiu Chi-jung (邱其榮), an 82-year-old resident of Gaopu Village (高埔) in Miaoli County’s Sihu Township (西湖), has found a new lease of life by skillfully fashioning wood and bamboo into works of art and donating them to charity.
“I got started doing this 10 years ago, when a cherry tree near my house was withering. I had planned to make a baseball bat out of it for my nephew, but when I cut the tree trunk, it split open because the trunk was not a solid piece. So the baseball bat was never made,” he said.
“Then a friend told me to look for bamboo stem bases or tree root stumps along nearby river banks. I picked up a number of strange, twisted examples and worked on them by carving and remodeling, depending on their natural configuration,” Chiu said. “So they were turned into art, and I have found a new interest in life.”
Chiu said he is entirely self-taught. To date he has made all 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, as well as elephants, ducks, birds, canes and benches. Family and friends have praised his transformation of discarded odds and ends into art.
His house is full of a wide variety of his creations, which Chiu stresses he does not sell, but only gives away as gifts.
Artists have expressed their appreciation of his work and a number of his creations were sent to France to be exhibited, of which Chiu is very proud.
Sihu Township chief Lee Wen-ling (李文林) learned of Chiu’s work and sent the head of the township’s agriculture section to pay him a visit. Afterwards Chiu donated 10 objects to the township office for public display, which were exhibited during the “Pomelo Flower Festival.” Chiu donated 20 of his creations to a charity auction, with all proceeds going to civic organizations doing community work.
“Working and carving wood and bamboo to create art objects is purely a hobby, but it has also allowed me to make new friends,” he said.
“Donating to organizations for good causes is very meaningful and I hope my example can compel others to help the needy,” he added.